A group of documentary-makers are set to bring the Birmingham Superprix back to life through the medium of film.
None of the team behind the project were even born when the the last Birmingham Superprix took place in 1990, however project leader Andrew Smallman has brought together a collection of archive material set to bring the street race back to life.
In a race against time to finish the documentary to coincide with the event’s 30th anniversary on August 24, the project is currently looking to raise funds for the final production stages of the film.
The Superprix was the last legalised street race in British history, and to this day remains one of the nation’s most evocative sporting spectacles. Held between 1986 and 1990, those who took to the streets of Birmingham city centre in anger include single-seater stars Damon Hill and Jean Alesi in F3000, as well as Andy Rouse and Robb Gravett in the British Touring Car Championship.
Birmingham born and bred, Smallman told Classic & Performance Car that his fascination began from roaming the streets of the city where racing lines and ballsy manoeuvres once truly had a place.
‘Me and my dad used to drive past the circuit when I was kid, and he used to tell me everything about the Superprix. I always met it with mystique though; I couldn’t imagine it, because it was pre-social media and when we didn’t have online videos to look back on. When I started watching the videos on You Tube, my jaw just hit the floor. I couldn’t believe that drivers were racing past places where I’d gone to drink, eat and shop at at 170mph.’
At the start of the project, Smallman talks of how he walked the once 2.4-mile track; one that even today maintains some its heritage.
‘The holes where the Armco was placed, the public grandstands, the flowerbeds that blossomed to read ‘Birmingham Superprix’, they’re all still there.
‘The old Halfords Corner has now been made much bigger, however the original roundabout is still there in the middle of it. It’s almost as if Birmingham itself is holding on to the race.’
Through talking to established figures, such as archivist David Page and Dave Lucas, formerly head of Birmingham City Council’s Road Race team, the scale of the event and the effort it took to put together began to dawn on the project’s folk, and is a key motive behind the forthcoming documentary.
‘The likes of John Surtees, Graham Hull and James Hunt all came together and said “this could happen and should happen”. Even beyond the big names, we’ve found out that reputations, jobs, and even marriages were on the line to make this race happen.
‘The fact that these people sacrificed so much to get it off the ground needs to be recognised. Whatever line of work you’re operating in, that’s got to be inspirational to take a big idea and make it happen.’
Since launching the project, Smallman, along with the project’s director of photography Kate Hook and editor Aaron Jones, have put together a trailer using archived footage – one that has been met with great interest.
‘We’ve had so much feedback, and so many people getting photos and memorabilia out of the loft to help us along. The public support, the national support, the historical value, and the motorsport community - all these factions have started to come together again to remember and talk about it.’
‘We feel like it’s been keep in the dark too long, and that the time has come to show the next generation just how much work went in to it and how amazing it really was.’